SOR: 3 Pieces de Societe, Op. 36 / 6 Petites Pieces, Op. 42 (Marc Teicholz) (Naxos: 8.553722)
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Fernando Sor (1778-1839)
Three Society Pieces, Op. 36
Serenade, Op. 37
Fantasia: Introduction and Variations on "Ye Banks andBraes", Op. 40
Six Little Pieces, Op. 42
In the late 1820s the Spanish guitarist and composer Fernando Sor(1778- 1839), settled in guitar-mad Paris. Sor's musical talents had alreadytaken him to Paris, London, and on one triumphant tour in the mid 1820s as faras Moscow where he had charmed the new Tsaritas and seen his ballets presentedby the Bolshoy company. Settled in Paris, Sor was surrounded by a small circleof friends and relatives, including his brother Carlos and his daughter by hisfirst wife (Sor's second wife, the ballerina Felicite Hullin, had returned toRussia to pursue her career). Sor concentrated on publishing his works, givingoccasional concerts, and especially teaching fashionable bourgeois dilettantes.
The dedicatees of the works included here, Talbott, Pastou, Houze, Burdett,were aIl either friends or pupils.
The competition among professional guitarists seems to have been fiercein Paris. A small fad in the Revolutionary era had become guitaromanie during the Empire, and in the1820s many of the guitarists in Europe gravitated to Paris, some to stay, a fewto move on. There were native French guitarists, returning emigres, pupils, orthose who claim to have been, of the formidable Giuliani in Vienna, andespecially Italians, whose works invariably reflected the new flamboyant bel canto style. In the face of suchcompetition, Sor remained essentially conservative, crafting music with clearpolyphony and the measured proportions of classicism. While his music wascapable of expressing profound emotions, Sor rarely resorted to virtuosicposturing and only rarely reflects the influence of Rossini, in those years themost popular and influential composer in the world. This is particularly ironicsince at the time Sor lived in the H??tel Favart, across the street from theThe?ótre des Italiens, later the Opera Comique, the Parisian centre of bel canto and also for the Frenchmusic-publishing industry.
In 1828, Sor ended his long-term publishing arrangement with AntoineMeissonier and ventured into a new arrangement with Pacini, one of the mostinfluential and successful of Paris publishers, whose clients included Rossini.
The arrangement probably involved Pacini as a selling agent with Sorself-publishing or at least subsidising Pacini, since Sor has his own exclusiveplate-numbers for many of the Pacini editions after Op. 34 (Op.36, forexample, was "1-Sor") andlater, in his introduction to his Op. 51,Sor remarked that he himself had become a publisher. Teaching and the sale ofsheet music were important sources of income to a fashionable guitarist, and somany of Sor's works of the next years were either pedagogical, or major piecesdedicated to his best pupils and a few friends, or light works for the salonand parlour. It is not clear whether artistic integrity or money had been anissue between Meissonnier and Sor, but it is likely that Sor's new arrangementimproved his position in both respects.
The Trois Pi?¿ces de Societe, Op. 36
(1828) comprised Sor's second set of "society pieces" (the first was Op. 33). They were dedicated to Mr.
Pastou, a friend who was also the dedicatee of the Six Waltzes, Op. 17. The "society pieces" eachconsist of two short movements; the first is a Minuetin A minor and an Allemande in A major; the second beginswith a Lento cantabile and closeswith a lively Minuet, both in G.
The third, an Andantino and Chasse in F with a modulation in F minor,requires the unusual scordatura ofthe sixth string to F, a device which occurs here and there in Sor's work butis rare elsewhere.
The Serenade, Op. 37
(1828- 1829) was dedicated to Mlle. S. Talbot, who was also the dedicatee ofthe Divertissement militaire for twoguitars, Op. 49. The "serenade", really a sort of suite,was an unusual form for Sor, but very common in his day. There are fourmovements, an Andante cantabile inE, Andantino in E minor, Allegretto in C, and another Allegretto in E minor/E major. In thetradition of the Viennese serenade, the final movement is a march, completewith a bugle-call towards the end.
Although there are only three variations, the scordatura of the sixthstring to D and the extensive use of harmonics in the third variation combineto make Fantaisie ...sur un air favoriEcossais "Ye Banks and Braes o' Bonnie Doune,\ Op. 40 (c.1829 -30) one of Sor's mostoriginal and effective works in this genre. The melody was a traditional Scotstune, "The Caledonian Hunt'sDelight," which became internationally known in theversion published by James Johnson in his ScotsMusica Museum, Vol. 4 (1792), with new words by Robert Burns. Withhis choice of themes Sor may be recalling his years in Britain, or he maymerely be reflecting the fascination with Scottish culture that swept throughEurope in the Romantic era, when Macpherson's Ossian tales were listed amongthe greatest masterpieces of literature and Sir Walter Scott was the mosttranslated novelist of his age. This set of variations, composed by a Spaniardliving in Paris, is thus part of the same phenomenon as Rossini's La Donna del lago, Donizetti's Lucia di Lammermoor, and Mendelssohn's Scottish Symphony and Hebrides Overture. The piece wasdedicated to a certain Mary Jane Burdett.
Sor's Six Pi?¿ces, Op. 42
(1830-31) were dedicated to Mlle. [Natalie] Houze, a favourite student who wasalso the dedicatee of his Six Waltzes fortwo guitars, Op. 39; the"Spanish" Fantasy, Op, 54bis; and the recently discovered Fantasy in D. The second, fourth and sixthpieces are waltzes, suggesting that these pieces were intended to be played in pairs, as was also the casein many of his other collections ofminiatures.
Richard M. Long
The guitarist Marc Teicholz was awarded first prize at the 1989International Guitar Foundation of America Competition and was a winner in the1991 New York East-West Artists Competition. He has undertaken concert toursthroughout the United States of America and Canada to considerable acclaim.
Abroad he has appeared in Russia,South East Asia and New Zealandand as a soloist with orchestras in Spain, Portugal, California and Hawaii. Inaddition to his recitals and concert appearances, he has made a number ofrecordings and has had new works written for him. On the faculty at the SanFrancisco Conservatory, he teachesat the California Summer ArtsFestival and the Weatherfield Music festival in Vermont. Marc Teicholzgraduated with distinction at Yale University in 1985, later taking hismaster's degree at the Yale School of Music, while he receivedin 1990 a J.D, from the BoaltSchool of Law of the University of California.